Friday, December 17, 2010

Day #67 The truth about assassins

I learned the truth about Assassin Bees when Bill Dunn spoke at the most recent meeting of the Beekeepers Club of Gwinnett.

You never heard of Assassins? Sure you have -- just not under that name.

For a while the press called them Killer Bees, which sounded much more exciting than their original name. Then, for some unbeknownst reason, the name shifted to Africanized Bees.

Now, who's to say that some of the feistiness of those critters isn't a good thing for bees in general? I don't know.

But they really are assassins. And the way they work is fascinating. Want a gruesome tale of treachery that rivals that of the Trojan Horse?

You DO recall the details of that story, don't you? It's the reason people began saying, "Beware of Greeks bearing gifts." The Greeks appeared to be losing in their long seige of the city of Troy, so they built an enormous wooden horse, left it in front of the gates, retreated to their ships under cover of darkness, and sailed out of the harbor.

"Look!" the Trojans cried the next morning. "A gift from our defeated enemy!" They shoulda known better.

They rolled the wheeled horse into their city and celebrated like crazy, getting dead drunk in the process. Along toward dawn, Greek soldiers, who'd been hidden in the belly of the wooden horse, jumped out and opened the city gates. The inpouring army slaughtered . . . well, you get the idea.

Assassin Bees are even smarter than that, though. They form a cluster in a tree somewhere in the general vicinity of a regular beehive. The cluster is to protect their queen, who is in the center. Then they send out scouts, who forage for nectar and pollen. the scouts fly up to the unsuspecting hive, land on the front door and display their gifts.

"Gee, thanks!" the guard bees say. "You wanna bring us presents, we'll accept." Gradually the number of assassin bees within the hive increases, until there are enough to launch an attack on the resident queen.

After they've killed her, the swarm breaks up, flies to the hive, and installs their own queen. Pretty as you please. And the original worker bees don't put up a fight because, once their queen is dead, they're toast, unless they get a new queen quickly. Voila. Assassin Queen to the rescue.

You know what they say: "Beware of Bees bearing gifts."

BEEattitude for Day # 67:
       Blessed are the gift-givers, for they shall prosper. 

One thing Fran is grateful for right now:
       My choropractor, who straightened out my wrist when I fell on the ice. 

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